Multiple musical pilgrimages

Hello Folks. Long time no update! I just completed the last in a series of week-long trips to perform in, and to partake of, the (jazz and improvised) music scenes of three very different communities within these United States: 1. New Orleans, 2. Northeastern Ohio, and 3. Los Angeles. And it is striking to me just how markedly different they are, with each exhibiting its own idiosyncratic cultural/artistic particulars. My New Orleans trip was centered around my two performances with trumpet player Anthony Coleman II's "Simplistic Big Band", involving a gaggle of young and energetic New Orleans-based instrumentalists and vocalists, plus two notable Bay Area-based rappers (Wonway Posibul & Do Dat !!). The music was centered around the festive, as were the (multiple!) New Orleans-based bands that extended me the invitation of sitting in with them during the week (Anthony's smaller unit, Roccadile, Jumbo Shrimp, Michael Parsons and co. at Cafe Beignet, etc.). The year-round influx of music-loving tourists enables/suggests this, of course; but it was still quite stimulating for me to immerse myself in such an environment (otherwise only experienced by me when playing with, e.g., Adam Theis and cohorts, or Lavay Smith and associates, neither of which I do often enough). The Ohio trip focused on the aspects of that (small but nicely focused) scene which stem from its perennial strengths: classical music and the like (wherein I played with a jazz bassist, "trading sets" with my own sister performing violin-piano pieces from the European classical tradition), and rock-infused improvising (apt for a locale sporting the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame") as exemplified by my sitting in with the power-duo of Mike Sopko and Joe Tomino! Added to this was my participation in a "straight-ahead" jam session in Akron, OH, populated by a host of very young players. Finally, my trip to Los Angeles was centered around the making of a new "studio" (if his bedroom counts as a studio) album with my long-time collaborator, Logan Kane. Logan is intimately connected to a portion of the large scene in LA devoted to playing funk-infused (for lack of a more descriptive term) improvised music which is at once heavily structured AND refreshingly free-wheeling! And his associations led me to make music during the week with alto saxophonist Nicole McCabe (she is SO good!!), and to me performing a solo set (!) along side a number of young CalArts-affiliated innovators (Takoda, Lauren Baba, etc.). And I finally got to play (sitting in, but that counts-- sort of?) at the great Sam First venue (joining uber-saxist Jon Irabagon's trio for one tune). Besides these participatory LA-area highlights, I got to see the great Justin Brown once again (at the exciting venue, ETA), after so many years (in a double-Logan trio of his: Kane + Richardson). The whole Los Angeles experience was beyond lovely, and deeply energizing! But what's more, I am now invited to reflect upon the many differences between each of these week-long deep-dives... and I can safely conclude: REGIONALISM persists within our music, even in this age of enhanced virtual connectivity and the like. Hardly surprising, I'll admit, but very comforting for me, nonetheless! 

 

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